Darby's Destinations Luxury Travel - Italy

How to Spend a Festive Weekend in Bruges

Discover Bruges: Medieval Charm and Festive Delights in Winter

December 15, 2023

Bruges (Brugge) may not be the capital of Belgium but it’s certainly the capital of Christmas. This small and spectacular city is located in West Flanders in the Flemish region of Belgium. Medieval architecture, guild houses, and romantic canals make Bruges a choice destination at any time of year. However, it’s beyond magical over the holidays. This is exactly how to spend a festive weekend in Bruges.

Bundle up for a walk in Bruges

Even when the temperatures plummet, Bruges is a joy to explore on foot. Rise early and take a stroll along the Groenerei canal one morning and venture into the Magdalena Quarter where cafes are scattered around museums, parks, and plazas. Sint-Anna is where you’ll find the four remaining windmills of Bruges.

Visit the churches

Bruges is home to the Basilica of the Holy Blood where a strip of cloth stained with the blood of Christ is kept on display in the chapel. Special services and concerts are held at this most sacred of Roman Catholic churches during December.

Immerse yourself in Belgian cuisine

Belgium is known for its chocolate, fries, and beer: a winning combination during the chilly winter season. Swing by Frietmuseum and learn the real history of the “French” fry while sampling the freshest Belgian fries in Bruges.

Follow up with dessert at the Choco-Story Chocolate Museum where you can brush up on the history of chocolate-making and pick up holiday gifts. Complete your gastronomic education with a tour and tasting at the Bruges Beer Experience.

Spend the night at the Christmas market

Snow is never guaranteed in Bruges but festive markets bring a touch of winter magic. The main Christmas market is held in Grote Markt (Market Square) from late November until early January. This plaza is bounded by Gothic buildings and the Belfry of Bruges where climbing up 366 steps delivers panoramic views over frosty rooftops. The market comprises wooden chalets and a twinkling Christmas tree. It usually spills over into the nearby Simon Stevinplein where an ice rink is laid out. Gifts available for purchase include Christmas decorations, Belgium lace products, hand-blown glassware, children’s toys, and artisanal pralines. Festive foods include sausages, shrimp croquettes, Belgian waffles, and hot chocolate dusted with speculoos. Visit Grote Markt in the evening to appreciate the illuminations and convivial atmosphere.

Dine on Langestraat

Skip the market on your second night and eat at one of the upscale restaurants on Langestraat in Sint-Anna. Franco Belge Restaurant serves modern French cuisine with a wine pairing in a refined setting.

Stay in a palace

Winters in Bruges are nippy but you can protect yourself from frostbite by checking into a luxury hotel. In fact – make that a palatial hotel. Hotel Dukes’ Palace is a 5-star property that once housed the Burgundian aristocracy in Bruges. Deluxe rooms are outfitted for cooler weather with warm furnishings and select units offer a Belfry view. Seasonal Flemish and European fare is served in the restaurant or via room service while the full-service spa has a sauna and sunshower to keep the winter blues at bay.

Contact me to plan a complete, bespoke itinerary for a festive weekend in Bruges.

Ready to embark on your own journey to the extraordinary?